“Given his actions and announcements over the past week that have shaken the financial industry to its very core, damaged Cayman’s international reputation and created further instability and division in the community, Mr. Bush should be asked to step down as Finance Minister,” said Mr. Miller.
He urged “all right-thinking members of the business community, Caymanians from all cross sections of society and those of us in political leadership to demand of Mr. Bush that he removes himself from the Finance Ministry, to prevent further damage to the Cayman Islands.”
As well as being premier, Mr. Bush serves as the minister of finance, tourism and development in the Cayman Islands Government.
The independent member for North Side said Mr. Bush had undertaken an “unnecessary and reckless departure” from Cayman’s traditional revenue sources to a form of income-determined tax, an action Mr. Miller said was “grossly detrimental to this country and he should be required to re-assign the Finance Ministry”.
Members of Cayman’s local business community issued a statement Saturday saying that, following a meeting with them Friday, the premier had agreed to scrap the tax, which involved imposing a 10 per cent levy on work permit holders earning $36,000 or above. Mr. Bush has said he will make an announcement regarding the tax at a meeting at Mary Miller Hall tonight (Monday, 6 August), but as of Monday afternoon, had not confirmed that the tax proposal would be abandoned.
Mr. Miller commended the private sector group of businessmen for intervening in the situation, which he said appeared to have resulted in the Premier’s indication that he would drop the tax, dubbed the ‘Community Enhancement Fee’, as a revenue-raising measure.
“Like the rest of the community, I await further announcement from the premier that will provide details about what fees are recommended in lieu of the Community Enhancement Fee and what progress he is making to finalise the country’s 2012/2013 budget,” said Mr. Miller.
“Despite the efforts of the private sector group over the weekend, we note today that there is still a lack of clarity and no small amount of confusion coming from a subsequent statement from the premier. This is disappointing, but hardly surprising. Sadly, it is in keeping with the frightening level of incompetence that the premier has discharged his responsibilities as the minister of finance,” said Mr. Miller.
He also criticised Mr. Bush for travelling to Jamaica for celebrations for the country’s 50th anniversary of independence and to London for the Olympics. “I find it difficult to accept that our premier had to be there at such a crucial time in our budget preparation,” Mr. Miller said.
He also queried how Mark Scotland, the minister of sports, could “find the time and money to take a big entourage to London to attend the Olympics, while his government has plunged the country into uncertainty and anxiety”.
Mr. Miller and the People’s Progressive Movemember party on Monday postponed a meeting they had planned to hold in George Town Monday night about the income tax plan. They called off the meeting in order to wait and see what Mr. Bush had to say about the tax and the alternatives that are being considered at his meeting Monday.